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Los Angeles Among Over 50 Counties Poised for Rural Internet
By Jennifer Bihm, Staff Writer
Published February 21, 2018

Farmland in Santa Ynez, California (Wikimedia commons)

Los Angeles is among the over 50 counties that are on track to receive high-speed internet for their rural areas in the near future. The Federal Communications Commission began its Connect America Fund more than 5 years ago, to offset the high cost of getting quality internet service to these spaces. The entity will hold a “reverse auction” beginning July 24, where internet providers will compete for up to $2 billion in funds to distribute to underserved areas.

“Connecting the unconnected in rural America is my top priority,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m excited that our CAF auction will provide opportunities for innovative companies and cooperatives to bridge the digital divide for the California consumers and small businesses that lack high-speed access today.”

Poor phone lines in many rural areas may limit download speeds to 23-26k or less. Many of these lines serve relatively few customers and phone company maintenance and speed of repair of these lines is often limited and their upgrade for modern quality requirements is unlikely. This results in a digital divide.

Broadband access is essential in the 21st Century for jobs, education, information and economic development. In early 2009, Congress directed the FCC to develop a National Broadband Plan to ensure every American has “access to broadband capability.” Congress also required that this plan include a detailed strategy for achieving affordability and maximizing use of broadband to advance “consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, employee training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purposes.”

Since 2011, the FCC has targeted more than $9 billion in support for rural broadband expansion to over 4 million homes and small businesses through CAF.

The Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, in conjunction with the Wireless Telecommunications and Wireline Competition Bureaus, will host a workshop on the application process for the CAF Phase II auction on March 14 in Washington.  The workshop will include detailed information about the CAF II auction application system.  The workshop is open to the public and will be available for viewing online.  After the event, a recording will be available for streaming.

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